John Hurrell – 10 October, 2019
From the centre of the room these works look painterly, in parts as if thin paint has been smeared over white underpainting so the former glows. Step closer and they then appear to be fragmented collages—chopped up, repeated and scattered—and based on digitally mingled online news photographs, images of plants and female models. Get really close and you can see the tiny pin-dot points of woven acrylic thread, the works being produced under the artist's supervision in Japan.
Ry David Bradley
26 September - 19 October 2019
Displayed in Bowerbank Ninow’s exciting new downtown space, this Ry David Bradley show presents eight ‘canvases’ (in fact finely woven tapestries) on wallpaper emulating a continuous rock wall.
From the centre of the room these works look painterly, in parts as if thin paint has been smeared over white underpainting so the former glows. Step closer and they then appear to be fragmented collages—chopped up, repeated and scattered—and based on digitally mingled online news photographs, images of plants and female models. Get really close and you can see the tiny pin-dot points of woven acrylic thread, the works being produced under the artist’s supervision in Japan.
These are fascinating images because of the above, but the wallpaper installation seems an over-elaborate complication. The background messes with the hybrid compositions (the pleasures gained now being lost) and destroys their potential for digital/atelier wit.
The repeated wallpaper stones though are intended to be a declaration of digital artificially, and to allude to gaming and the modular textures of three-dimensional video games. Subsequently the work suffers from convoluted overthought, because to best enjoy the tapestries you have to imagine them isolated in the white walled room next door, where Simon Ingram has his delicate robot paintings. These (like Bradley’s work) also investigate processual hybridity and suggest that the chosen point of frozen replication (breaking the ongoing procedural continuum) is arbitrary.
As complex ‘collages’ Bradley’s images are pretty entertaining—in the classically surrealist sense. Facial parts are repeated in large numbers to become like moving flocks or swarms, or bodies are distorted or anatomically flipped around. The fewer the literal or figurative recognitions, the more successful the work (as a vibrant optical texture) becomes.
Media references and tactilities vary unexpectedly. From a distance, woven zigzagged edges look brusherly as if wiped with semi-dry bristles. In one complex work the marbling of old Victorian books is even evoked, as if a readable sculpture. In another, the architectural wall space is punctured, exposing criss-crossing struts and batons, and alluding to Jasper Johns.
A very unusual exhibition/installation, it is exciting to see tapestry utilised this way. The only artists I know to have used this medium consistently in this part of the world are fellow Australians Kelly Thompson and Narelle Jubelin, and New Zealander Peata Larkin, who are much more hands-on in the craft production side of things. They are specialists. Nevertheless Bradley—more akin to Billy Apple in that he outsources—has created something special. In Lorne Street however, he and Simon Ingram (next door) make two shows that greatly reward any visit.
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